"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Almost 24 hours into the gestation period of the penultimate episode of “Breaking Bad,” critics and fans alike are poring over every element and reference in the show for clues to how it end. After all, show creator Vince Gilligan is known for its attention to detail (despite what ESPN thinks). [Warning: spoilers ahead].
One such detail is the episode’s reference to “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,” a campy 2007 movie which was one of the only recreational items Walt was left with in an isolated cabin in New Hampshire (The other being a second copy of the film).
Of course, by the end of “Granite State,” we all know that Walt, aka Mr. Lambert, won’t stay put in New Hampshire, but considering he paid ten thousand dollars just to hang out with his caretaker for an hour, it’s likely that at some point the meth kingpin broke down to watch one of the copies of “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” (he probably smashed the other one to bits in a fit of rage, though). If Walter White were to have suffered through the 2007 kids movie, this is what he would have discovered:
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” stars Natalie Portman, Jason Bateman and Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman plays an eccentric, magical 243-year-old toy store owner and Natalie Portman is the store’s inheritor. It was not very good.
The movie has a pretty bad rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers called the “Worst Family Film” of the year. “If you can endure ‘Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium’ for five minutes without puking, your stomach is cast-iron.”
And, yes, as this Dustin Hoffman montage demonstrates, the film is indeed rather hard to watch:
There is a moment in which the 243-year-old character talks about mortality and quotes “King Lear” (FORESHADOWING??!!):
Its soundtrack is kind of inspirational, in a cheesy sort of way:
Also, Kermit the Frog has a cameo:
On second thought, Walt probably didn’t watch either copy. But that won’t stop some fans from creating a “Mr Magorium/Breaking Bad” theory, will it?
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at email@example.com.More Prachi Gupta.
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)